It may seem time saving to be using a computer versus hand printing your notes, it may seem like you can get more done and can better multi-task. All of these things are true; however, are we losing something by saving time and saving ink and paper?
It appears that we are. “From Pencils to Pixels” reminded me of an article I found when trying to explain why I journal rather than blog my feelings.
In a Neuroscience article published by the Guardian in December of 2014, it appears that there is scientific evidence to suggest that cognitively, writing by hand is much more meaningful. So why then, is hand writing disappearing from the educational space and the work place?
Ease. Rather obviously, as soon as typing became somewhat popular (even back when the only other options were typewriters), penmanship flew out the window. Children in schools no longer learn how to write in cursive. Which is a shame, if I say so. I mentioned this to my roommate, and she just pulled a look of disbelief and said, “How are they going to sign anything?” Great question. I loved, and still love to, write in cursive. My penmanship is actually a crafty mix between print and cursive. It’s not just cursive that’s gone though. It’s regular print writing.
Unlike riding a bike, penmanship only maintains itself with practice and with the ease of the keyboard, we’re practicing our skills with a pencil less and less. The way we form our characters remains the same; that never changes. The legibility of those letters and words, though, is a real problem. Sure, we still write post-it notes, and to-do lists, but the amount of large-scale writing we do by hand has flown the coup and has resulted in some rather sloppy appearing notes and lists.
Getting back to the cognitive part, handwriting is a result of a singular motion of our human body. Typing is not. I would know. I’m typing this right now. It takes years to learn how to master writing with a pencil. Although it was a bit dodgy at first, my ability to type was mastered in much less time.
Writing on paper encourages free-form. You can write without having to worry about set margins, or copying and pasting. It comes down to this, though: Neuroscientist think that giving up handwriting will affect how we learn to read in the future. Drawing each letter rather than pressing in on a keyboard drastically improves recognition.
While the United States is pulling more towards this technological side, unafraid of the possible neurological changes caused when teaching children on computers rather than with pencils and paper, France has gone the opposite direction. France has resorted to requiring the teaching of cursive writing upon entry to primary school, at only age six.
Personally, I agree with France. As a writer, I love the ease of a keyboard, and the ability to type my thoughts almost as quickly as I think of them, or just before they fly away, but I still prefer keeping a pen and paper with me at all times. When traveling I keep a proper journal, and I even keep a daily journal, which helps relieve my stress better than if I typed my journal. I love technology. I just don’t always agree with it.